Room-temperature graphene photodetectors at terahertz frequencies, with High Speed and Low Noise

Uncooled terahertz photodetectors (PDs) showing fast (ps) response and high sensitivity (noise equivalent power (NEP) < nW/Hz1/2) over a broad (0.5–10 THz) frequency range are needed for applications in high-resolution spectroscopy (relative accuracy ∼10–11), metrology, quantum information, security, imaging, optical communications.

However, present terahertz receivers cannot provide the required balance between sensitivity, speed, operation temperature, and frequency range. Here, we demonstrate uncooled terahertz PDs combining the low (∼2000 kB μm–2) electronic specific heat of high mobility (>55 000 cm2 V–1 s–1) hexagonal boron nitride-encapsulated graphene, with asymmetric field enhancement produced by a bow-tie antenna, resonating at 3 THz.  This produces a strong photo-thermoelectric conversion, which simultaneously leads to a combination of high sensitivity (NEP ≤ 160 pW Hz–1/2), fast response time (≤ 3.3 ns), and a 4 orders of magnitude dynamic range, making our devices the fastest, broad-band, low-noise, room-temperature terahertz PD, to date.

Contact: Miriam Serena Vitiello – Istituto Nanoscienze